The Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Program champions coral reef conservation and empowers those who protect these diverse ecosystems. We are an international collaboration of scientists, managers, and supporters aimed at improving the regional condition of reefs in the Western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. For 20 years, AGRRA has used an innovative regional approach to examine the condition of reef-building corals, algae and fishes and support the conservation of coral reef ecosystems. We curate and distribute data, research and educational materials that support this mission.
The AGRRA program began in 1997 by Dr. Robert N. Ginsburg – the guiding visionary force and mentor behind AGRRA’s efforts for 20 years. Collaborating with numerous colleagues, advisors and students, AGRRA has become a leading advocate for coral reef science and conservation. Dr. Ginsburg has led and supported AGRRA, through his foundation The Ocean Research and Education Foundation (ORE), inspiring new generations of ocean scientists, educators and conservationists.
AGRRA’s initial goals were to provide a standardized assessment of key structural and functional indicators that could be applied to reveal spatial and temporal patterns of regional reef condition. Priority was placed on conducting baseline assessments of remote reefs such as in Cuba, The Bahamas, Panama and Los Roques and on creating educational materials and leading training workshops for in-country partners around the Caribbean.
Since that time, we have collaborated with teams of scientific professionals and partners to fill many gaps, collectively conducted over 3,000 surveys, built one of the largest open-access public databases of coral reef condition, and contributed to numerous peer-reviewed publications and management plans.
A cornerstone of our program has been providing open-access to scientific data collected through our partner network. Over 3,000 surveys and 10,000’s of data scientific metrics of corals, fish, and key invertebrates have been collected throughout reefs in the Caribbean. The AGRRA data portal greatly improves the efficiency, transparency and reliability of data compilation and analysis. AGRRA has become a key source of scientific data used to inform reef policies, legislation, management and conservation.
AGRRA has developed a comprehensive set of visual training tools to help partners learn identification of key reef organisms, their role in reef health, and how to scientifically monitor, track and understand these systems. We strive to promote a learning platform through trainings, exchanges and education materials and to catalyze conservation impact through creative effective communication to wider audiences.
Our goals at AGRRA are to:
- 1. Conduct scientifically sound, comparable regional surveys of the health of coral reefs using a standardized method
- 2. Promote a collaborative learning platform through trainings, exchanges and open-access education materials
- 3. Advance our scientific understanding of coral reefs, analyze data results and provide easy data access with the AGRRA data platform and on-line data entry tools
- 4. Catalyze conservation impact through partnerships and creative effective communication to wider audiences.
We invite you to join us as we continue our scientific and conservation efforts to conserve coral reefs for future generations.
There are several major types of coral reefs in the Caribbean, each with a unique geological history and pattern of growth, including patch reefs, fringing reefs, bank/barrier reefs and atolls. The vitality of a reef depends on complex relationships among corals, fishes and algae. Therefore, to evaluate the condition of a reef from a one-time assessment, it is critical that multiple indicators of the corals-algae-fishes relationships are examined. These different indicators are measured by the AGRRA protocol.
AGRRA’s Data Explorer houses the largest database on Caribbean coral reef health indicators, with data available from more than 2,000 reef areas in 29 countries throughout the Caribbean. You can explore the data through our database, ready-made spreadsheets and GIS shapefiles. The PORT allows you to generate individually customized reports by country, indicator, year. The Online Data Entry System allows registered users to enter data directly into the database. (Member login required).
Our in-depth training materials include PowerPoint or PDF files for learning the AGRRA method, making survey equipment and identifying the benthos, coral and fish. Other training tools are available to help improve accuracy and consistency of collected data. A special section is available with teaching aids for our AGRRA Certified Trainers who conduct AGRRA training workshops. (Member login required).
CORAL REEF REPORT CARDS
AGRRA has partnered with several groups who use AGRRA data to produce coral reef report cards and other publications. Report cards are an easy to understand communication tool that integrate survey data to provide an overview of the current state of the reefs and to engage stakeholders to help protect marine ecosystems. Reporting this type of information helps track progress in protecting reefs and inform future monitoring and management.
AGRRA has collaborated on Report Cards with: The Healthy Reefs Initiative for four Mesoamerican Countries; The Nature Conservancy, Bahamas National Trust and the Blue Project for the Bahamas and The Nature Conservancy for 6 countries in the Eastern Caribbean. AGRRA data have also been used in many scientific publications and reports. More can be found on our Resources page.
For 20 years, AGRRA has had the opportunity to work with numerous partners on our mission to better understand and protect coral reefs. We are grateful for their inspiration and support. We invite you to join us as we continue our collective conservation and scientific efforts.